Theist Contradictions: Problems with Presuppositional Apologetics

By: Michelle Zorzella


There are several varying approaches to apologetics. A common strategy among Christian Fundamentalists and Biblical literalists is Presuppositionalism; the belief that Christianity provides the only coherent foundation for rationality. This approach relies on the presupposition that the Bible is divinely authored and consequently inerrant. A presuppositional apologist therefore seeks to demonstrate that Christianity is perfectly coherent, while exposing the logical flaws in all other worldviews. A common objection to this radical approach is that by presupposing the Bible is infallible, one begs the question as to whether Christianity is actually true and internally consistent. The full extent of this problem is best illustrated in a controversial statement offered by American Pastor Peter LaRuffa, in HBO‘s 2014 documentary Questioning Darwin:

If somewhere within the Bible, I were to find a passage that said 2 + 2 = 5, I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible. I would believe it, accept it as true, and then do my best to work it out and understand it.

Perhaps LaRuffa intended to offer this statement rather as a sort of hyperbole to illustrate his faith in the Bible’s accuracy. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the absurdity. He argues essentially that despite ones certainty in mathematical proofs that can be demonstrated and verified, he would rather continue to presuppose his worldview is perfectly accurate—even if it stated an apparent falsity such as 2+2=5. Ultimately, LaRuffa is unashamed and even prides himself in his tendency to seek information that confirms his own preconceptions.

In turn, he reveals a deeper issue within religious thinking; are there Christians who believe in the Bible because it is demonstrably true or because they have been taught that it is incontrovertible and infallible? Even more, it shows that many believers are willing to continue holding their worldview is wholly accurate in the face of evidence to the contrary. Instead of abandoning beliefs incongruent with the facts, they deliberately ignore any evidence that does not seem to support their own ideals in order to reconcile cognitive dissonance. In a desperate attempt to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible, LaRuffa leaves the audience contemplating whether the Bible can actually provide any basis for rationality if one is expected to reject all evidence or reasons that may contradict it.

Alternatively, those who wish to seek truth objectively and rationally should avoid confirmation bias and remain open to the possibility that what they believe may turn out to be wrong. LaRuffa’s admission that he will disregard any evidence which contradicts the teachings of the Bible defeats the purpose of presuppositional Apologetics, which is to demonstrate that Biblical Christianity provides a logically coherent foundation for reason. A rational belief system should be founded on evidence and reason, not traditions and ideologies.